In the mid-nineteenth century, many Americans were eager to acquire additional territory from Mexico, and U.S. President James K. Polk was prepared to provoke a war to get it. In 1845, following the Congress’s annexation of Texas as a new state, Polk stationed General Zachary Taylor and his forces along the Rio Grande River. The Mexican government, pledging to restore Texas to Mexico, soon attacked. The U.S. Congress declared war on Mexico in May, 1846 and authorized the enlistment of 50,000 volunteers. The war ended in early 1848, when the U.S. annexed half of Mexico, 1.2 million square miles of land. This political cartoon features a beardless Uncle Sam, his legs symbolizing the southern and western states (with Texas on his boot) that drove the quest for new territory. Cutting the already diminutive figure of Mexico in half, the scissors invoke the military campaign of General Zachary Taylor and his volunteer army.
Source: Henry R. Robinson (after a drawing by Edward W. Clay), 1846, lithograph—New-York Historical Society